25+ Must-Know Australian Welfare Statistics (2022)

Australian Welfare Statistics

In spite of the increase in wealth and living standards, over a quarter of Australian adults receive some kind of financial support from the government. 

Is Australia still a welfare state? How much does the government spend each year on welfare services and support? 

Read on below for the answers to these and more thought-provoking Australian welfare statistics.

Ten Most Important Australian Welfare Statistics to Keep in Mind 

  • 26% of adults in Australia receive some kind of financial support from the government. 
  • Australian welfare spending reached $195 billion in 2020.
  • About 174,700 children in Australia receive child support services.
  • 87% of child support recipients in Australia are single mothers.
  • 77% of people in Australia consider themselves happy.
  • Australians donated $3.9 billion to charity in 2019.
  • 65.7% of Australians believed their lives had worsened as a result of Covid-19. 
  • 4.6% of Australia’s working population were employed in the welfare workforce.
  • More than 116,000 people are confirmed to be homeless in Australia. 
  • The unemployment rate was 4.6% in July 2021.

How Many People in Australia Receive Welfare?

1. 26% of adults in Australia receive some kind of financial support from the government. 


This means that 5.4 million people received different financial support, as of June 2021. More specifically:

  • Age Pension – 48% (2.6 million)
  • Unemployment payments (JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (other) – 21% (1.1 million people)
  • Disability Support Pension or Carer Payment – 20% (1.05 million)
  • Parenting payments – 6% (321,000 people)
  • Student payments – 5% (270,100 people)
  • Other payments – 0.2% (8,500 people)

2. About 174,700 children in Australia receive child support services.  


This translates to about one in 32 children going through investigations, care and protection orders and/or out-of-home care placements.

Over half (57%) of these children only went through an investigation, while 7% of them were placed on a care and protection order or out-of-home care. 

Alarmingly, 62% of the children in Australia who received child protection services had been previously involved with the system. 

Other Australian welfare statistics regarding children show that:

  • Emotional abuse was most common (54%) type of abuse, followed by neglect (22%), and physical and sexual abuse (14 and 9%, respectively). 
  • Children from remote areas had higher rates of substantiation—24 per 1,000 children compared to 7 per 1,000 children in major cities. 
  • 55,300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children received child protection services. 

3. 62% of Aussies aged 65 and over received Age Pension. 


What’s in the budget for pensioners? 

More than one million people used aged care services, the most common means of support being the Age Pension, used by 50% of Australian pensioners as the main source of income during retirement. The number of older Australians receiving Age Pension has been increasing since 2001, reaching 2.6 million in 2021.

4. 87% of child support recipients in Australia are single mothers.

(The Conversation)

Most single-parent households (43%) depend on welfare support payments as their only source of income, making them significantly more likely to be in poverty compared to other households. 

5. One million participants were registered for jobactive as of 30 June 2021. 


The government provides funds for employment services for income support recipients.  As of June 2021, the number of people taking part in these employment programs was one million, or seen by sectors: 

  • Disability Employment Services – 315,500
  • Transition to Work – 35,900
  • ParentsNext – 79,000

Community Development Program – 29,600

6. 467,000 people are active NDIS participants.


The latest stats reveal that a staggering  4.4 million Australians were reported to have some kind of disability

Disability Support Pension  (72%)and Carer Payment (28%) were given to 1.5 million people or 5.1% of the population aged 16 and above. 

7. 77% of people in Australia consider themselves happy.


Australia is one of the countries that noted a decline in overall happiness ranking of nine points compared to surveys carried out before the pandemic. Nevertheless, it is still rated as one of the happiest nations in the world, with an overall ranking well above the global average of 63%. 

How Much Does Australia Spend on Welfare?

8. Australian welfare spending reached $195 billion in 2020. 


In 2019-20, the Australian government spent $195.7 billion on welfare-related services and payments. Out of those, 66% were for payments in cash, 33% for welfare services, and 1.5% were for administration costs.

Australian welfare payments were distributed among four main target groups:

  • $76.4 billion, or 39%, for older people;
  • Over a quarter, or $50.3 billion, for people with disability;
  • 20% for families and children;
  • $18.5 billion for unemployed individuals

The rest ($12.4 billion) was allocated for Indigenous people and the homeless (or those at risk of homelessness).

Government spending on welfare comprises 9.9% of the country’s GDP, the second-highest on record after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 when it stood at 10%. 

9. There was a 12% ($21.5 billion) increase from 2018 to 2020 in Australian welfare spending. 


The leading cause for the increase were the economic measures imposed by the Australian government as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, welfare spending per person reached $7,668 in 2019/20, the highest on record. 

10. Australians donated $3.9 billion to charity in 2019.


This marks an increase of 1.1% from the previous reporting period. 

The most common reason why Aussies give to charity is that it is for a good cause (39%), followed by respect for the work the organisation does (21%) and sympathy for the people the charity cares for or helps (14%). 

The Impact of Covid-19 on Australian Welfare

11. 65.7% of Australians believed their lives had worsened as a result of Covid-19. 


The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the well-being, health and wealth of Australians. 

Here is what the most recent statistics on Australia, welfare and Covid-19 indicate:   

  • The percentage of adults experiencing severe psychological distress was higher in August 2021 (10.1%) than before the pandemic. 
  • 48.5% of adults claimed that COVID-19 slightly negatively impacted their children’s mental health. 

  • The percentage of Australians experiencing loneliness peaked at 45.8% in April 2020. According to the ANUpoll, the age group 18-24 experienced loneliness the most (63.3%) in April 2020.

The average level of life satisfaction dropped to 6.5 in April 2020, only to rebound a month later to 6.8 as lockdowns and restrictions eased.

12. In April 2020, around 3.7 million employees received the JobKeeper payment.

(AIHW)JobKeeper payment was introduced to support the economy and keep businesses working. Another economic package was also introduced, the JobSeeker Payment. The number of recipients of this payment type rose to 454,800 in April 2020 and 289,900 in May 2020.

Australian Welfare Workforce Statistics

13. 4.6% of Australia’s working population were employed in the welfare workforce. 


Further statistics show that since 2010, the welfare workforce has risen by 53%. Over the same period, the total Australian workforce expanded by 15%. 

Here’s an outline of welfare workers’ statistics:

  • 85% of welfare workers are female. In fact, Health Care & Social Assistance has the biggest share of female workers (77.9%) of all industries in the country, stats on women in the workplace reveal;
  • 41.8 is the estimated average age of a welfare worker;
  • $839 is the average weekly earnings;
  • 2.3 % of workers are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people;
  • 50% of welfare workers work part-time. 

Housing and Homelessness Statistics in Australia

14. From the mid-1960s, homeownership rates have remained stable at 67–70%.


According to a survey of Income and Housing, in the 20 years to 2017–18, the percentage  of households who own a home without a mortgage has dropped, and private rental agreements increased:

Namely, 36.7% of households had an outstanding mortgage on their home, whereas 29.5 % of homes were owned without a mortgage. 

15. In 2017-18, above 1 million low-income households went through housing stress. 


These low-income households have difficulties coping with potential issues that might arise from everyday life or the housing market factors. 

In the private rental market, low-income households (32%) spend a more significant amount of money on housing rather than low-income households who own their home (29%) or don’t pay a mortgage (6.0%). 

In 2017–18, 5.5% of households used at least 50% of their income on housing costs.

16. More than 116,000 people are confirmed to be homeless in Australia. 


People who are homeless, or at the edge of homelessness, are among Australia’s most socially and economically disadvantaged. Most homeless people live in severely overcrowded housing.

As of 2020, there are 802,000 occupants in Australia’s three main social housing programs. Out of these, 70% were in public housing, 23% were in community housing, and 6% were in state-owned and managed Indigenous housing. In 2019-20, 76% of public dwellings were given to those in need.

Education and Welfare Statistics

17. From 2008 to 2021, National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results have improved in almost all areas.


The results show a significant increase in reading and spelling in years 3 and 5, as well as grammar and punctuation in year 3 and numeracy in year 5. Writing is the only area without improvement across all years, except year 3, where it shows an insignificant increase.

18. In 2020, 44% of students aged 15–64 enrolled in a higher education institution. 


The number of students who completed Year 12 or non-school qualification of Certificate III rose from 83% in 2008 to 89% in 2020.

Further Australian higher education statistics show that 1.3 million individuals were attending higher ed institutions in 2021 and 489,000 were enrolled in TAFE institutions. Around 40% of these were pursuing a bachelor’s degree. 

Statistics on Employment and Income in Australia 

19. The unemployment rate was 4.6% in July 2021. 


This is a slight increase from the year before when the unemployment rate in the country was 4.5%. 

The 15-24 age group experienced the highest unemployment rate of 10.7% in May 2021

1.1 million people received unemployment payments as of 25 June 2021. Throughout March and June 2020, unemployment payments rose by 82% as the number of unemployment payments recipients peaked. 

20. In 2021, the average weekly earnings were $1,209. 

(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

$1,390 were the weekly earnings for males, and $1,042 for females, revealing that a significant gender pay gap still exists in the country

The occupations with the highest hourly earnings were Managers ($65.10) and Professionals ($57.90). 

21. The number of employed Australian adults dropped by 592,100 during the initial months of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Most job losses occurred among:

  • Casual workers, accounting for 63% of job losses. The number of casual workers declined by 21% as opposed to a rate of 2.6% for non-casual workers;
  • Young people aged from 15 to 24 saw employment rates plummet by 50% in May 2020. 

Australian Facts and Stats on Justice and Safety

22. 5,323 young people (aged 10 and over) were under youth justice supervision in In 2019/20.


This stat shows an improvement of a 4% decrease since 2015-16. In addition, most of these children (84%) were under supervision in the community, and a smaller percentage (16%) were put in detention. 

23. The average daily prison population stood at 41,060 as of June 2020.


In the last decade, the prison population in Australia has increased, going up from 29,700 in 2010 to 41,060 in 2020. During the same timeframe, the rate of prisoners in the country went up from 175 per 100,000 adults to 202, Australian crime statistics indicate. 

The most common offences include: 

  • Acts with the intention to cause injury: 23%
  • Illicit drug sales: 15%
  • Sexual assault: 14%

24. According to an online survey of 15,000 women, 4.6% experienced sexual or physical violence from March to May 2020. 


90% of the victims of domestic violence that SHS assisted in 2019-20 were females. Moreover, 65% of those violated said the violence had started since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Even more disturbing, 1 in 6 women have been the victims of physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner since they were 15 years old.

The graph below showcases that violence can occur in different classes and age groups, revealing women and children to be the most affected.

Indigenous Australians and Welfare Statistics

25. There are around 798,400 Indigenous Australians.


This translates to about 3.3% of the population. Here are some key statistics on the Indigenous population in the country: 

  • 31% of Indigenous Australian are homeowners;
  • 79% were living in appropriately sized housing with the number of Indigenous households living in overcrowded conditions falling to 10%;
  • 79% of employed Indigenous Australians have a Bachelor’s degree or higher
  • The average household income for Indigenous Australians increased to 29% between 2002 and 2018–19, which is double the growth rate of non-Indigenous Australians (14%) over the same period; 
  • The percentage of Indigenous Australians relying on government pensions or allowance as their primary income decreased from 47% in 2014-15  to 45% in 2018;
  • As of June 2021, 53,900 Indigenous Australians were recipients of the Disability Support Pension.

Bottom Line

So, what have we learned from these Australian welfare statistics? There is progress in certain areas, such as increased inclusion of women as welfare workers and that of Indigenous Australians. However, issues like the high unemployment rate and the number of young people under youth supervision are yet to be tackled. 


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